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State lawmaker filing resolution on Sandy-recovery funding

JACKSON — A Democratic state lawmaker is filing a resolution that urges Mississippi’s entire congressional delegation to support federal spending for Hurricane Sandy recovery.

The resolution by Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis isn’t expected to mention Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo by name. But, it’s a rebuke of Palazzo’s vote last week against putting $9.7 billion into the National Flood Insurance Program.

Palazzo was the only Mississippi congressman who voted against it. He has been sharply criticized, in his district and beyond, since the vote. Palazzo said he was concerned because the bill didn’t reduce other federal spending. He joined 66 other Republicans in voting against the bill.

Palazzo, of Biloxi, is a former state House member. He unseated longtime Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor in 2010 in south Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, which was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mississippi received billions of dollars in federal aid after Katrina.

As chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority after Katrina, Palazzo sought $38.5 million for Katrina recovery, the Sun Herald reported this past weekend.

The housing authority’s website still had a 2005 statement from Palazzo: “Tell our national leaders — don’t send more inspectors — we know what’s damaged and how to fix it. Send us money so we can put our families back together and do our part to rebuild our community.”

Palazzo on Tuesday toured storm-damaged areas of New York and New Jersey. He told WLOX-TV in Mississippi that he doesn’t regret last week’s vote but he believes there needs to be national discussion of reforming disaster relief.

Baria said he wants to add all state House members as co-sponsors on his resolution urging members of Congress to support Sandy aid.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said the resolution would go to the Rules Committee. Because Republicans hold a majority on the 13-member committee, it’s not clear whether the resolution will survive.

 

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